The Executive Director of FLI, Mr. Fakhruddin Akhunzada, called on representatives of the Ushojo language community yesterday in Madyan, Swat. He congratulated them for having their language, Ushojo, documented under a project which FLI recently concluded. The Ushojo people paid great tribute to the Forum for Language Initiatives for documenting their language and giving the language a written form. The Ushojo people are happy to write in their mother tongue for the first time and poets, writers and researchers from this community who were trained by FLI have started writing their views in their language. They are now also teaching other people to read and write in their own language.
Many reports revealed in recent past that the Yidgha language, spoken in Lotkuh valley of district Chitral will vanish in a decade or so owing to being just an oral language. New generations had stopped learning their mother tongue and the parents preferred Khowar for their children.
The contemporary language activism in the north has influenced the Yidgha people who started realizing the importance of their heritage language. They established organizations for awareness campaign within their community and save their language.
FLI joined them with the support of its partners; NRSP-SGAFP (USAID) with a program and provided the Yidgha people with a writing system so that they could save their heritage language through documentation. With technical support of FLI and financial by USAID they have reached the milestone. Today the Yidgha is no more just a combination of sounds but has gotten a writing system and started to be used for written communication.
Above image is a leaf from how they have embarked on a journey to promote their language in social media. They are curious and have found some similarity between their own language and Pashto. We endorse it and apprise them of relation that Pashto and Yidgha both are Indo-Iranian and belong to the same family.
One more lesser-known language of northern Pakistan, Kalasha has started the journey of preservation and promotion. Spoken in three beautiful valleys of district Chitral; Bamburat, Berir and Rumbur the Kalasha has been taken up by Ayon and Valleys Development Progam (AVDP) with the financial support of SGAFP-USAID aiming to develop the language through documentation.
Forum for Language Initiatives (FLI) is a key partner in this venture providing technical support to the community and helping them preserve their wealth of language and culture.
A one-week orthography workshop took place in Kalasha Dur Bumburat, Chitral to discover ways for a standardized writing system and improve and unify the already existing alphabets for the language. Under the program Kalasha researchers will be trained and equipped to document their mother tongue, disseminate awareness within the community to preserve their culture and bring out publications in their language.
Chitral: 12 April 2016
FLI has published eight books, two in each of four languages indigenous to northern Pakistan. The four extremely endangered languages, of which three are spoken in district Chitral, had previously been used only for oral communication, but have now successfully been provided with a writing system under a USAID-funded documentation project.
Yidgha, Dameli and Gawarbati, spoken in different valleys of the district of Chitral, and Ushojo, spoken in Swat, have joined the ranks of languages being used for written communication. These new books contain bilingual word lists and alphabets, all the information necessary both to begin using a language for written communication and to document a language for preservation purposes.
Under this project, FLI selected two people from each language community to train in language documentation and development principles. These individuals then later held training workshops in their respective communities and trained an average of ten people per community, enabling each community to effectively document their language. Together with support from the wider language communities, research was initiated to identify the unique sounds and elements of each language, develop their alphabets, collect folktales reflecting the rich heritage of each language’s culture, and then publish the resulting work in both written and audio formats that can be used by these communities for generations to come.
FLI arranged a two weeks long website development workshop, last week for vernacular languages here in Islamabad and enabled some 18 representatives of 10 language communities to have online pages for their mother tongues.
Forum for Language Initiatives, Islamabad provided the language activists with opportunity to boost their online visibility including Shina, Palula, Khowar, Gawri, Torwali, Indus Kohistani, Hindko and Gojri spoken in northern Pakistan who got their webpages activated the same day the workshop concluded.
The milestone will not only facilitate the communities to project their activities but also provide a platform for extensive contacts, sharing of ideas, and will be strengthening their relations by allowing them communicate through the modern means of communication and information sharing. The communities have published their websites along with posting their materials on the platform to let the world know about their good work for preservation and promotion of their mother tongues.
It’s hoped that the fully active websites of our local languages will cement the ties between the communities and language activists which will result in extensive cooperation among language groups of the region gathering support for the promotion of linguistic heritage of Pakistan.
A Khowar book containing more than 357 proverbs of the language spoken dominantly in the district of Chitral has been published with Urdu translation. FLI provided technical and financial support to the young author, Afsar Ali Khan in his effort to bring out the fascinating document in his native language. The Khowar (also known as Chitrali) is one of the rare languages spoken in the northern Pakistan which have been used for writing, though for odd purposes, the current collection, titled as Khowar Matalan Gurzain (a pool of Chitrali proverbs) is yet another but handsome addition.
FLI, the forum for language initiatives, a resource center for preservation and promotion of the minor languages of northern Pakistan has been facilitating the people and group of people in documenting their mother tongues for the purpose of their conservation and development by providing documentation training, software tools and other technical support and monetary funding. Mr. Afsar is one of dozen other enthusiasts who completed their book and took the job of serving their mother tongue who were trained by the FLI.
Mr. Afsar, a young linguist, hailing from the beautiful town of Mastuj, has been in the field of language development for years running MLE schools in Khowar language for preschool aged kids in his town Mastuj, district Chitral. The Khowar language owes him a lot of honor for the services he is rendering. The recent contribution in the form of compilation of Khowar proverbs will benefit not only the speech community of Chitral but also the academia for further research in the language in days to come. Congratulating him on his maiden achievement we wish him best of luck for his future endeavors in the field of language development and pledge all our support in his cause which matches the best with ours.
A five-day Sustainable Use model Workshop concluded here in Islamabad on 26th November 2015. Eleven trainers from the three organizations participated in the event: three from IAL, two from SAMAR Afghanistan, and three (Advocacy Officer, Media and Communication Officer, and Training Coordinator) from FLI. Moreover, FLI’s Executive Director, Linguistic Consultant and Monitoring and Evaluation Officer were also present for most of the sessions. The workshop facilitator, Mr Stan, from Canada stood active till the last moment.
The workshop aimed at training the trainers in how to administer the Sustainable Use Model in communities so that these communities will be able to raise awareness of the current situation of their traditional language. The participants learnt how to use the SUM guide for the future of their languages.
Thirteen people including three women and ten men benefitted from the training which had a task for the participants to practice what they learned in the workshop. Therefore the participants decided to catch a nearby language community and apply SUM as trainers. The Gojri language community, living in a nearby village of Islamabad came under study and the participants gave their presentations the next day on their tasks given to them by their facilitator.
The participants performed well and their facilitator was happy to award them with certificates on the last day of the workshop.
Forum for Language Initiatives, Islamabad held a two-day writers’ workshop for Ushojo language community in Bishigram, Swat. 14 people including teachers, language researchers, poets and young language enthusiasts attended the event. Most of the participants had attended the training under the orthography workshop series FLI has been holding for endangered languages under the Preliminary Documentation Project which is financed by Small Grants and Ambassador’s Fund Program (SGAFP-USAID).
The workshop aimed at discussing the issues arisen out of the orthography workshop in Ushojo Community and deriving ways for their mitigation. Creating the story-idea, explanation of story-parts, various stages of story-writing, publishing the article and bringing solution to orthographic hiccups faced in earlier phase of training were what the workshop was held for.
FLI has been providing language documentation training to lesser-known language communities in north Pakistan since its inception in 2003. One of its targets, Ushojo language community has stepped up and entered the second phase of language documentation process by participating in training which are instrumental in preserving their culture. The resolution and passion they are showing to give their language a writing system are commendable and together with FLI they are very likely to preserve and promote their language. Their language, Ushojo is not far from removing the tag of being ‘undocumented’ as folk tales, idioms, anecdotes etc. of the language are being documented and the participants have started to write in their own language.
Writers’ workshop will be followed by more activities which involve advanced courses for language documentation. Publishing a book in Ushojo is a task under the project and the participants are working hard to achieve that milestone. We wish them success.
The Forum for Language Initiatives (FLI) held a five day orthography workshop for the Yidgha language community in Chitral from September 29 to October 03, 2015. Twelve persons (both men and women) including teachers, local researchers, language activists, and writers from the language community attended the workshop, which aimed at training them in how to document their mother tongue, Yidgha.
Yidgha is spoken in Lotkuh, a valley lying some 46 km west of Chitral town, and is one of the 23 languages of Pakistan that UNESCO has declared as ‘on the verge of extinction’ for being just oral languages and undocumented.
This workshop was part of a project FLI has initiated to document four endangered languages in Chitral and Swat so as to preserve them from elimination with financial assistance from USAID’s Small Grants and Ambassador’s Fund Program (SGAFP-USAID). The workshop was focused on discovering the unique sounds in Yidgha and developing a writing system for this language that is losing ground even in its home region. The workshop will be followed by additional activities including the publishing of a book of folktales in Yidgha. This allows the Yidgha language researchers to be provided with further trainings under the project, as well as furthering the impact of documentation efforts. Mr. Naseem Haider and Farid Ahmed Raza facilitated the workshop.
Though Yidgha was previously just a verbal dialect, this workshop has provided an opportunity to document the sounds of the language in written form. Participants have now received the training necessary to take their keen interest in preserving and promoting their mother tongue and channel it into tangible activities, including being able to finally write in their mother tongue. Hopefully, there will soon be stories, poems, and anecdotes also published in the Yidgha language. The combination of these community members’ commitment and their newfound training may be a huge factor in saving the Yidgha language from fading into history.
Organized and facilitated by Dr. Henrik Liljegren, Associate Professor at the Department of Linguistics, Stockholm University, Sweden from 12 to16 October, 2015 at FLI’s premises in Islamabad the project aimed at documenting the linguistic features of the languages spoken in the Himalayan region.
The event, titled as Collaborative Language Research Workshop (CLRW) as part of a larger research project was sponsored by Swedish Research Council. The identification of any substantial relations between the languages of Hindukush-Karakoram region was sought through various methods of interaction during the event.
The participants represented over 13 languages, spoken in different parts of northern Pakistan and AJK. The languages represented in this event were Bateri, Dameli, Gawarbati, Gawri, Indus Kohistani, Kalkoti, Kashmiri, Khowar, Palula, Shina, Torwali, Ushojo and Yidgha.